Paginations

Building your Author Platform

Fellow authors, I’m going to take this time and space to chat a little bit about your platform. I’ll preface this by saying I am by no means an expert, as I’ve only been marketing my work for a few months, but I do have a long background in marketing my own company. In the “real world” (sorry if that offends any authors; right now my writing is a part-time gig, but perhaps in the future…) I started an online services company almost 10 years ago, and have been solely responsible for the marketing and advertising since day one. I believe our company has built an excellent reputation within the industry, both with partners and customers, and has a strong professional and friendly ‘brand’ in the marketplace.

You need something to jump off of!

And that’s what we’re talking about here with your author platform – you’re building a brand, and it needs to be done the right way…or not at all. One misstep, especially in today’s instant-access online world, could doom your brand and force you to start all over again with a pen name (if you even can).

Now that that doom and gloom is out of the way, what is a platform? Like a politician, it’s what you stand for; like one made of wood, it’s what you stand on; like a pool, it’s what you leap off of every time you perform. It’s essentially an all-encompassing marketing strategy for your novel, and maybe more importantly, for you as an author.

Almost anything marketing- or PR-related can be considered part of your platform; I will just mention four of the basics (and my tips and thoughts), and I hope at the end you and fellow readers of this will chime in to suggest more. I’m certainly not here to teach, just perhaps to plant some ideas…

1. Twitter – Odds are if you’re reading this, you’re already on Twitter, so me telling you “go sign up for Twitter” and how to do it would be a waste of keystrokes. It’s an excellent tool for networking, sharing, learning, promoting, being promoted, and much more. Honestly, so much more than I initially thought it was (I always thought of Twitter as being an outlet for NBA players to butcher the English language in 140 characters). However in building your brand, there are some dos and don’ts with Twitter.

  • Do your best to spell correctly – yes, it’s a limited space to type, but abbreviations are a given. Spelling words wrong may give a potential customer the impression your novel will be rife with errors as well. (Don’t get me started on your vs you’re…)
  • Do send interesting and useful messages – think about every tweet you send, is it worth someone’s time to read, did I help them in some way, whether informative, humorous, thoughtful? Will someone retweet it?
  • Do leave room for a proper retweet – count the number of letters in your Twitter name and add six. That’s the magic number for the characters to leave; that way someone can retweet your message with “RT @yourname:  ” without having to rewrite/truncate your message, and your name will be attached to the new message (more publicity).
  • Do have a well-written, informative profile – saying “I like kewl stuff, you shud 2!” as your profile doesn’t exactly lend itself to picking up quality followers. Talk about you, your work, what you do, who you are.
  • Don’t tweet incessantly about your book and your book alone – doing this turns your Twitter feed into a pseudo-spammer, and turns people off to any other message you may send. You may grab a sale or two, but no one wants to read nothing but sales pitches. I read somewhere that 10-15% of messages should be sales-related, the others informative or retweets of others, and that sounds like a pretty fair number.
  • Don’t ignore others – Twitter is a community at its very heart, and other authors are out there. Show an interest in their work, start conversations, join in discussions, and others will do the same for you.

2. Facebook – Many of the same Twitter rules hold true here; spell correctly, make your messages worth someone else’s time, don’t spam, etc. But on Facebook, your messages can be (and should be) larger and more personal. Don’t just link your Twitter so that all your tweets show up on your Facebook feed – people can spot that a mile away. Take the time to write in that 400+ character box. Make friends with other authors. Share their links on your feed, they may do the same.

3. Facebook fan page – I feel this is a must. This is where you set up your alter-ego, you as the author, not just you as the Facebook friend (honestly I barely use my regular Facebook, as it’s filled with people from my company’s industry, family, and oddly enough some high school classmates I haven’t talked to in 20 years). Your author page is a dynamic showcase of you, the writer. Post photos, cover art, excerpts from your work, links to blog posts. Generate interest in you, the author. Build your brand in a positive way. (Shameless plug – visit mine at Facebook.com/steveumsteadwrites and click Like!)

4. Blog – This may be the most in-depth and most important one of all for a writer. A blog is almost a requirement at this point! This is where you as the author can fully express your thoughts, feelings, information about your work, reviews of books you’ve read, links to other authors and blogs, links to where to buy your book, and so much more. Link your blog with Twitter and Facebook, subscribe to other blogs, post on them, and watch others reciprocate. Offer to host other people’s blog posts, interview other authors, network the blog with other blogs. Maybe most importantly, this is where you show others who you are. Your writing style, personality, knowledge (or lack thereof – be careful!) can all come through in what and how you write.

I had a discussion a few weeks back with a fellow author whose novel wasn’t being published until the end of this year. His plan was to wait for the novel to be released, then start a Facebook author page and start talking about it on his blog. I respectfully said to him he had it backwards – an author needs to have a platform in place right away, maybe even before he or she commits one word to paper. Building a platform is an ongoing process, and the more you can “build it out” the better off you’ll be later. You as an author are trying to create and promote a brand, to get the name out there, to establish that good reputation from day one.

In closing, I’ll state that establishing a platform to promote you and your novel is vitally important for independent authors, not only for those who plan to self-publish, but also for those looking for a traditional publishing deal. Traditional publishers are not a writer’s personal marketing department – on the contrary, they probably have hundreds or thousands of authors to promote. An indie author has a hard time breaking into anyone’s top 100, whether it’s the publisher, agent, or distributor. Marketing, effective marketing, will always fall on the shoulders of the author. Better start now.

This is a VERY basic list – I’d love to hear everyone else’s suggestions of additional methods of building the brand platform!

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Special Delivery – A short piece from WAY outside my normal genre

Maybe a second glass of wine will help my nerves, thought Kerry Jensen as she changed channels for the umpteenth time, finally settling on a cheesy horror movie. Must be from the 70’s, judging from the bell bottoms and big hair the girl being chased sported, she mused.

She splashed a few more ounces of cabernet into her glass and set the bottle down on the side table with an audible thunk, which echoed through her sparsely-furnished studio apartment. The sound startled her a bit, as she had muted the television’s audio several channel flips ago. The apartment was small, as suited to a single woman new to the area, but tonight, with the thunder outside the window and the anticipation building inside her, it felt cramped; claustrophobic, almost.

She checked her watch. Ten more minutes, she thought, her stomach churning a bit more. She picked up her wine glass to take a sip, when a knock sounded at her door.

“Oh shit, early. Here we go,” she said out loud, her last syllable echoing off the plaster wall. She stood from the couch, punching the Off button on her television remote, and walked to the door.

Kerry was new in town, having just transferred from Springfield two months ago for her job. The only people she knew in Waukegan were the twelve people she worked with in the new office, and her overbearing, borderline sexually-harassing boss. Her cousin knew some people in Waukegan from years past, and had convinced her to give a blind date a shot; a friend of an old friend, she had called him. Thomas. Sounded harmless enough. Thinking back to the movie she had just turned off, she thought, No undead or serial killers would ever be named Thomas, right?

She reached the door, and with one last straightening of her new blouse, she turned the knob and opened it, and was greeted by a dazzling smile.

“Kerry?” the man asked, extending his hand.

She was caught off guard by his gentle voice, his crisp shirt and muted tie, and his whiter-than-white smile. And his gorgeous green eyes.

“Ah, yes, sorry,” she stammered, taking his hand. “Thomas?”

“Yes,” he said, his smile growing inconceivably wider. “Pleased to meet you. Mag told me so much about you.”

She felt herself blushing, and tried to turn aside. “Only the good things, I hope.”

“Are you ready to go, or am I too early?”

“No no, this is fine, let me just grab my coat,” she said.

Thomas dipped his chin to the carpeted floor next to him in the hallway. “Is this yours?” he asked.

Kerry looked down and saw a large package, wrapped in plain brown paper with a small handwritten mailing label on it. She narrowed her eyes and leaned down slightly.  No, it couldn’t be…that doesn’t make any sense.

“That’s bizarre,” she said, cocking her head. “That looks exactly like the package I just dropped off at the post office.”

Thomas leaned over and read the label. “It’s from Heffernan Corporation, to a Liberty Media?”

Kerry shook her head, trying to clear the fuzziness. “That is the same package I dropped off. That creepy little woman behind the counter kept giving me a hard time because it wasn’t in the proper box for Priority Mail. She kept on and on about it. ‘White box only’ and all that. And she had this weird eye that kept looking up at the ceiling.” She giggled. “I think she saw me staring at it too.”

Thomas chuckled. “Maybe she was a witch, and sent this back here as a punishment for making fun of her.”

She laughed in return. “Yeah, maybe! I guess I shouldn’t have made the ‘going postal’ comment either.”

“Ooh, be careful with that one,” Thomas said, holding up a finely-manicured hand. “My brother worked in a post office. Joking about going postal is something they take very seriously. Here,” he said, bending over to pick up the box. “Let me bring it inside for you.”

Kerry was about to tell him to not worry about it when she saw Thomas’s body go rigid as his hand touched one corner of the box. A groan escaped his lips.

“Thomas, are you okay?” she asked, taking a step forward.

His groan became a growl, and he began to shake. Kerry looked on in horror as his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he collapsed onto the floor, white froth bubbling from a corner of his mouth. A last gasping breath wheezed from Thomas, and he was still.

“Oh my God!” she screamed, stepping back. Her eyes grew wide as she watched the man’s body begin to disintegrate, skin sloughing off his face, exposing bloody bone and muscle tissue. She covered her mouth, frozen to the spot as if witnessing a train wreck in slow motion.

Thomas’s eyes bulged from their sockets, extending farther and farther, until they dropped from his face with a wet popping sound, a sick green vapor rising from the empty holes. More green vapor was coming from his formerly-starched shirt collar, which was already seeped through with bodily fluids.

The hallway was beginning to fill with the green haze, and finally Kerry snapped from her hypnotic state. She turned back into her apartment and slammed the door behind her, sobbing uncontrollably.

“Omigod, omigod, omigod,” she said in a high-pitched tone, frantically searching her apartment for something, anything to latch onto, anything to make the nightmare end. Looking down at her feet, she saw a wisp of green vapor slip from under the door.

“No!” she screamed, running from the door to her kitchen. The panic was really beginning to set in, and she felt it. She was shaking and crying, tears streaking down her face, leaving rivulets of beige foundation in their wakes.

She grabbed a large kitchen knife from the wooden block on the counter and backed up to the refrigerator, watching the green haze seeping into her apartment. Looking down at the knife, it dawned on her that it was most likely going to do her no good against vapor. She dropped it with a clatter.

The sound of the knife falling crystallized her mind. Out, she thought. I need to get out.

She spun, heading for the back door, the one that led to the complex’s alley entrance. She ran through her study, knocking over a flimsy bookshelf on the way. Reaching the door, she flung it open, only to be knocked backwards at the sight that greeted her.

On the landing that led to the stairs sat an identical package to the one in the front hallway.

She screamed, holding both hands to her face, staring at the package. It lay motionless, waiting, she thought. Watching her. Out, she thought again, logic once again cutting through her fear.

She slammed the door and ran to her bedroom, towards the window that led to the fire escape. She had come in that window several times over the past few weeks, having forgotten her apartment keys on more than one occasion, and knew it was an easy way out.

As she entered the bedroom, her heart leapt into her throat. There, propping open the window, sat the package. Waiting. Her scream this time could have woken the dead.

She stumbled back into her kitchen, the mind-numbing fear now taking control of her body. Her vision was growing gray as she struggled to maintain a grasp on reality. She saw the phone sitting on the end of the counter. Help, her mind said as she reached for it. I can get help.

She picked up the receiver from its cradle, but instead of a dial tone, soft instrumental music was playing through the speaker. It was the overhead muzak from the post office, she realized, the dread now nearly overwhelming her.

She threw the phone down onto the counter, watching more and more vapor oozing under the door. Her front living room was now almost completely enshrouded in the green fog. She frantically looked around her kitchen, now the only safe haven from the haze in that section of her apartment. She saw her purse on top of the wine fridge. Cell phone, she thought, her spirits rising.

Kerry covered the ten feet in two long bounds, snatching her purse and spilling the contents onto the counter. Spying her phone, she grabbed it, swiped to unlock, and hit the phone key. A pop-up notification appeared, and upon reading it, she nearly fell over in shock.

“No service. Phone has gone postal.”

Her crying intensified and she dropped the phone onto the floor. Between sobs she heard a faint creaking sound, and she looked up for the source, hoping beyond all possible hope that someone was here to help.

The creaking seemed to be coming from the large white plaster wall adjacent to the kitchen. She squinted through her tears. The wall appeared to be changing color, taking on a brown shade. The creaking intensified, and she rubbed her eyes to try to clear her vision. No, she thought. It couldn’t be.

A handwritten label appeared where a small painting once hung. The wall had become the package. And it was moving towards her.

She backed away, knocking over a fruit basket and stack of mail as she scrambled towards the far side of the apartment. She turned to run that direction, but stopped dead in her tracks. She gasped as she saw the far wall had also turned brown and was bulging outwards.

The dread and horror finally got the best of her, and she collapsed onto her knees, crying and sniffing. She held her head in her hands and began rocking back and forth as the walls closed in. She heard pieces of furniture sliding and crashing into each other as the walls pushed inexorably towards her.

As the walls approached their final destination, Kerry Jensen heard an echo of her boss, the last thing he had said to her as she left the office.

Make sure to use Fed-Ex.

———————————

A big thanks to Al Boudreau for shooting me the prompt and the motivation. It was a fun write to go way outside my usual genre. As a scifi/technothriller author, it was a tough leap to go into a scary horror story, but after reading R.A. Evans’s Asylum Lake, I thought maybe I’d give it a shot. I know I’ve got several horror writers as friends (including R.A.), so if you read this, be gentle on me…

Here is the prompt Al gave me:

Kerry Jensen’s blind date arrives at her place. She opens the door and sees her evening companion lean over to pick up a package left for her at her doorstep. No sooner does he lift it off the porch floor, when he is stricken and falls to the ground dead.

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How editing for a friend made me a better writer

I just wrapped up a line-edit for a very good friend last week. It was for his existing novel he was looking into putting into print. We chatted a bit ahead of time, and because he had mentioned in the past he wished he could have put it through an editor previously, I volunteered to go over it for him to see if I could pick out and help improve any of what I call the “mechanics” of the writing. Not the content, plot, active/passive voice, that sort of thing. Just the mechanicals – the punctuation, capitalization, spelling, word repetition, point of view shifts, etc.

The hardest part of my offer was my constant thinking of, “who the hell am I?” and not wanting to come across as arrogant. Because, really, who the hell am I? I don’t have a degree in English, I’m not a teacher, I never worked as an editor; my only claim to fame is a state finals spelling bee in 7th grade. Not exactly the resumé of one to offer his services to another author. But if someone were to ask me what my best asset is as a writer, I’d probably say those mechanics. I may not be a typical reader, as even the tiniest of mechanical errors will jump off the page to me and ‘pull me out’ of the story. It’s probably borderline OCD and although I tend to self-medicate a lot (red wine and Guinness among my preferred libations) I suppose it is an asset in the end.

Am I a perfectionist? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I had a 3 star review posted on Amazon where the reviewer mentioned I had serious style issues he didn’t want to get into in the review. I commented back with my email address and he was kind enough to respond with a thorough, detailed listing of particular issues I had in my writing. And you know what? He was 100% correct – which makes me really anxious to read over my existing novel to see what I’ve learned over the past few months since writing it (and with the magic of e-publishing, I can make those changes in near real-time). So Scott – another sincere thanks.

That brings me to the crux of this post. I realized while editing, marking up, striking through, making red type suggestions, I was making myself a better writer. I was looking closely at someone else’s work and picking out things a reader would, or an editor would, and more and more as I went along I was essentially teaching myself to write all over again.

As strange as it may sound, by trying to help a friend, I was, in the end, helping myself. In the few days since I completed the edit, in the few hundred words I’ve written in my book two WIP, I am consciously avoiding those mechanical issues. I’m looking for the POV shifts, the incorrect participle phrases, the extra or missing commas. I skimmed back through my WIP at the previous few chapters, and I’m picking out a minor error here and there (and those of you who know my philosophy, you know editing-before-completing is a no-no in my book). It has made me, and continues to make me, a better writer.

Maybe what I took from the whole experience is that I’ve got a lot of great friends in the writing community, a community I’ve only been a part of for less than four months. I’ve seen friends suggest changes in cover art, offer beta readings, “Like” author pages, retweet Amazon links, and so on – especially in the fantastic community within a community on Twitter, #pubwrite. We’re all in this together, and I know myself it’s been a very rewarding experience. If I can pass on some of that help, I’ll do so wherever and whenever I can. Hopefully we all feel the same way and we can all continue to help each other.

A rising tide floats all boats.

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E-books officially pass print books, no looking back now…

From time to time, in both my personal life and business ownership, I make decisions that don’t work out. Whether it’s to lay a tile floor (weeks of backache afterwards said that was a mistake), try to install my own fence (complete disaster), try a trade show outside of our business focus (waste of several people’s time and my money), or hiring the wrong person (yep…not so smart in that one case), I’ve put myself out there and given it a shot. Like Wayne Gretzky once said, he missed 100% of the shots he didn’t take. However, in the past few months I’ve realized that one big decision I made was the proper one:

I decided to self-publish my novel as an ebook.

If you’ll notice the blog title, e-books are a wave rolling over the publishing industry. The reason I wrote this post is some incredible news that was just released this morning via press release. Amazon announced that books for Kindle are now outselling all paperback and hardcover books combined. Read the full press release here.

Think about that for a minute. Done? Yep, all paperback and hardcover combined just got passed by instant-download, lower-priced (well, not in all cases yet), mass-storable, read-anywhere e-books.

So my conclusion? I firmly believe I made the right decision (for once) in going e-book. I decided not to try for the traditional route (and I realize e-books don’t necessarily equal self-published, or vice versa, but for the sake of this post, I’m using the lower barriers to e-book publishing as being at odds with traditional publishing). I didn’t want to query, and query, and query; hope to find an agent; hope a publisher said yes to a full read; wait 12-18 months before my book hit the shelves; and finally see the book pulled after two months, relegated to bargain bookstores.

I’m certainly not arguing against traditional publishing, or even print books in general. I’m just satisfied in my decision to go the e-book, self-published route. And like the e-book wave, there’s no looking back for me now.

Oh, and if you were curious, my self-published e-book is available somewhere in that massive wave…

What are your thoughts on e-books?

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Review of Interference from Jim Blackstone

REVIEW:

Interference starts off with a bang, literally. I won’t be giving anything away by saying this, as the book jacket reveals it, but the dramatic assassination of the President of the North American Union sets events into motion that turn a science fiction novel into more of a suspense/mystery, and Blackstone definitely keeps the pages turning. However, that’s not saying it’s not science fiction!

Some fascinating ideas Blackstone has written into Interference. The Kingdom, man-made terraformed area in the far northern reaches of the North American Union, populated supposedly by backwater barbarians. Sonic shields that snap into place at a threat detection. Mech assault robots with impressive weaponry. Cloning and genetic engineering to create better and better humans. Floater vehicles that can be shut down by command of authorities, or tasked to hunt. Blackstone weaves the ideas well into the overall story, never overemphasizing them, and perhaps more importantly, never violating the “Show, Don’t Tell” rule.

I found the story to be compelling, and I was actually more drawn to the character of Detective Henry Corvasce as opposed to Damien Reyes, the one blamed for the President’s killing and the one each chapter starts off with (Reyes being interrogated in a unique fashion – interrogated for lack of a better term that might give away part of the storyline). Corvasce made for an excellent main character; deep, well-written, believable, and likable. If another story is to follow, I hope that Blackstone brings back Corvasce as the primary character in another mystery-type setting.

Sections of the story do get very complex at times, as Blackstone has certainly done his homework on quantum physics and mathematics, but no so much as to get lost in. The book was well-edited; minuscule typographic errors, I don’t even think I can count them on one hand, and certainly far fewer than I’ve seen in mass-market novels. My only comment (because gripe would be far too strong a term) would be the ‘interrogation’  at the beginning of most chapters is all dialogue in quotation marks, and with some of the dialogue being multiple short statements, I did find myself having to read back a few lines to really determine who was speaking. But that in no way whatsoever took away from the overall mystery/suspense story, the excellent characters, and the resolution at the end I was very much looking forward to reading.

Blackstone has put out a good story – entertaining, good characters that are well-developed, an intriguing political mystery with science fiction settings and technology. I can certainly recommend Interference.

Available in paperback at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

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My thoughts on the impersonal side of Twitter

It’s Friday, and on Twitter, that means another round of #FollowFridays (#FF) – so it’s high time I get something off my chest. I’ll preface this by saying I’m a nobody, only been on Twitter for a few months, and have no degree in social networking – so feel free to disagree, bash, etc. However, I do think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of trying to be personal, which can be difficult online.

Here’s the deal: I can’t stand the automatically generated #FFs, alphabetical lists, and tweet after tweet of suggestions.

My personal opinion is that these types of tweets, massive lists, or bot-generated suggestions aren’t really suggestions. The person sending them either (a) isn’t even aware of whose name is being sent, or (b) sending everyone they possibly can, or (c)  both. The problem I have with all of those is that there is no personalization.

Twitter is a community, and the author community I’ve been thrilled to be a part of for the past few months is comprised of some of the best, most supportive people I’ve ever “met.” So I hate seeing some of the community bombarded with a mess of impersonal tweets.

• If I see my name in a tweet with a bunch of others all starting with S, I know that person is simply going through their list and adding people in order. No personalization.
• If I see a flood of back to back to back tweets from one Twitter name, again I see that as someone just going through the motions. Click, add, repeat.
• Don’t get me started on bots like FFhelper, autoFF, and their ilk. I find those to be the epitome of laziness. Click a button, and instantly recommend your best Twitter pals to other Twitter pals. Nope, as impersonal as you can get.

Here’s what I appreciate. Individual, personalized suggestions of people to follow, along with possibly the reason why. If you put several people in one tweet, tell me why (or at least have me in there with some common friends!)

If you tell me one, I look at it – you tell me 8 or 9 per tweet and send dozens of tweets, it gets skipped – sorry, that’s just how I look at it.

Here are some great examples, I think, of #FFs that I pay attention to and appreciate:

• #FF @rynedp who’s successfully pulled off pretending to be a professional hunter, zoo keeper, sushi chef, cowboy, & roller derby coach.
• If you are a writer this is my #FF suggestion: search for #pubwrite and go down the list. These are people you want in your corner.
• A #FF shoutout to @aj_powers @SteveUmstead @threecifer @shayfabbro for their great support of fellow writers
• Going to send some v.special #FF s. @CharlieCole and if he thinks @wrenem is funny she must be hilarious!

See? Someone sat down and took the time to write something out, something they believe in, and are suggesting to their followers something personal.

Three Twitter friends I immediately think of for fantastic, personal #FFs are @StartYourNovel, @elliesoderstrom, and @edenbaylee. If you don’t follow them currently, you should – at the very least for the creative tweets you’ll see on Fridays.

Thanks for letting me rant. I know this opinion will not be shared by all, but man that was therapeutic writing it down!

P.S. I also tend to skip tweets that are sent ’round the clock by automatic services (like Tweet Old Post or AutoTweetBot); in TweetDeck I can see what method was used to send the tweet, and that too is impersonal to me…at least use TweetDeck/HootSuite/SocialOomph’s schedule tweet feature, people…

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The Cover Reveal for Book 2 of the Evan Gabriel Trilogy

Here goes…only about halfway through the writing of book two, but this cover sure is providing some serious inspiration to get cracking:

(Click the image for full size – go ahead, it’s worth the click just to see the amazing detail on the ship itself.)

Big kudos to AJ Powers for his design work. If you don’t know AJ, take a few minutes and stop by his blog to find out a bit more. If you’re on Twitter (and seriously, who reading this isn’t?) drop him a line at @aj_powers to let him know what you think. AJ’s a video game developer in real life, so I thought to ask him one day if he’d be interested in throwing together a ship and planet type of scene I had in mind for Book Two. He graciously agreed, asked me for details about what I had in mind, and went to work on some mockups. Suffice it to say I was blown away.

Although this work was kept a ‘secret’ for a few weeks, I had been seeing the progress on the images from the beginning. Even the line drawing, boxy outline of a generic ship looked fantastic, and as days went by and he added more and more detail, I saw a beautiful piece of covert art come together. Above is the final result after I added and stylized text. The planet, ship, and background were all designed by AJ, FROM SCRATCH. Not stock photos, not something he had lying around from his real job. From scratch, according to some basic specs and preferences I had given him. I couldn’t be more excited (although I will refrain from squeeing, as I’ve been told a 40ish guy shouldn’t ever squee – I leave that to my good friend Shay).

Just a final note on the importance of a quality book cover. In my humble opinion, the cover is second only to the story itself in today’s marketplace. Thousands upon thousands of bokos are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and many other online sites (shameless plug – those links go to Gabriel’s Redemption…have you read it yet? It’s less than the cost of a latte…) so how can your story possibly stand out? Potential buyers can’t, and won’t, take the time to read book blurbs or a synopsis of each one. No, the first thing – and maybe the only thing – that grabs their attention will be a well-designed, eye-catching cover. It’s important to stand out, and just as important to make sure the cover is attractive and readable at thumbnail size.

Go search Amazon and others, look in your favorite genre, and see the huge list of book thumbnails that come up. That’s what your book will be up against. Will your cover stand out? I like to think this cover, thanks to AJ, will.

What do you think?

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